BILLINGS – A Hardin woman today admitted charges accusing her of burning down a house undergoing renovations on the Crow Indian Reservation, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif Johnson said.
Vanessa Faith Prettyontop, also known as Vanessa Faith Gunshows, 34, has pleaded guilty to arson, as an indictment accuses her. Prettyontop faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, a fine of $ 250,000 and five years of supervised release.
US District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. Prettyontop has been released pending further proceedings. The sentence was set for August 19.
In court documents filed in the case, the government alleged that on October 3, 2020, Prettyontop started a fire in a house belonging to the victim, identified as John Doe. When the fire broke out, Doe had almost completed repairs and renovations and was planning to return. Prettyontop tried unsuccessfully to enter the residence through the front door, then entered through an open back door. Prettyontop intentionally lit a burning mattress with a lighter. The fire spread to the rest of the house and Prettyontop came out the front door. Prettyontop called 911 to surrender, confessed and said she was tired of people arguing over the house.
Assistant US Attorney Jeanne Torske is pursuing the case, which has been investigated by the FBI and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.